The historic victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week in a campaign defined by hard-line policies is prompting the Obama administration to consider a major shift in its strategy toward Israel.
The White House on Wednesday suggested it could reverse its decades-old policy of using its veto in the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel. It could refuse to veto resolutions related to the Palestinians or introduce a measure of its own, The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. could also lend its support to a two-state solution based on Israel's 1967 borders, a senior White House official told The New York Times
"We're currently evaluating our approach," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to the Journal. "We're not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action."
The official speaking to the Times said: "The premise of our position internationally has been to support direct negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians. We are now in a reality where the Israeli government no longer supports direct negotiations. Therefore we clearly have to factor that into our decisions going forward."
The Obama administration in the past has shielded Israel at the Security Council, using a veto to strike down a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territory.
Now, Obama officials may decide to allow Israel to be exposed to more international pressure in an attempt to force them back into negotiating a peace deal.
White House aides are also saying there is likely no chance for restarting the peace process while President Barack Obama remains in office. In the meantime, Obama intends to transfer management of the relationship with Israel to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Times said.
"We are signaling that if the Israeli government's position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we're going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward," a senior administration official told Politico
The White House was also troubled by the Israeli leader's endorsement of settlement activity in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, and his decision in the final hours of his re-election campaign to warn of a huge turnout of Arab-Israeli voters.
"The United States and this administration are deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, according to the Journal. "It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together."
"It's going to be a very bumpy ride through the end of the Obama administration," David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Journal.
At the same time, there is almost no chance that there will be a change in military, intelligence and security cooperation, or cutbacks on America's financial support to Israel, Politico said.
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